Detroit is facing an emergency on the education front.
Despite the ongoing nationwide economic recovery, the number of homeless public school students in the troubled Michigan city has swelled by 66 per cent over the past four years. More than 37,500 homeless students were reported during the 2011-12 school year, The Detroit News’ Shawn D. Lewis reports.
“My friends are all these rich kids who can get anything they want,” a homeless student said in the story. “I don’t want to see anybody this young go through this kind of stress.”
The issue is one that’s not unique to Detroit: The number of homeless students nationwide has grown 57 per cent since 2007, now totaling more than 1 million. And funding to help the students hasn’t been able to keep up with the problem.
In Michigan, the state received $2.3 million of federal funding in 2011 funding to help homeless students, according to The Detroit News. But funding has remained flat while the number of homeless students has only grown, leaving each student with a smaller piece of the pie. The federal sequester will slash funding even further.
The surge in homelessness is just one of the lasting scars of the Great Recession. The country has also seen food stamp usage rise even as the economy has improved. Demand for food stamps is up 70 per cent since 2008 and nearly 16 per cent of the nation is still in poverty, reports The Fiscal Times.
The Michigan students profiled in the article were all only in their teens and faced a variety of living situations, from living in the basement of a relative’s home to staying on church floors.
Last year, Business Insider profiled 40-year-old Shawna Machado, a Florida college graduate who earned her degree at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee while living out of her car.
She told us what she did was possible for others, but it wasn’t easy.
“I’m totally tapped,” Machado said. “My savings have gone, my school loans are all used up. I have enough money to get through this month.”
A student at New York University also grabbed headlines several years ago when he lived for eight months in the school’s library before administrators found out and provided him free housing.
“I remember trying to pass off these experiences as funny tidbits for a future novel, or as the glamorous life of a Bohemian, but I never truly felt it—it was more of a way for me to cope with things as they were,” he said in an NYU Local profile.